THE CHINESE CHARACTER 45
as a high moral virtue. As our saying goes, "A man who cannot tolerate small ills can never accomplish great things."
The training school for developing this virtue is, however, the big family, where a large number of daughters-in-law, brothers-in-law,, fathers and sons daily learn this virtue by trying to endure one another* In the big family, where a closed door is an offences and where there is very little elbow-room for the individuals, one learns by necessity and by parental instruction from early childhood the need for mutual toleration and adjustments In human relationships. The deep, slow5 everyday wearing effect on character can scarcely be overestimated.
There was once a prime minister, Chang Kungni, who was much envied for his earthly blessedness of having nine generations living together under the same roof. Once the emperor, T'ang Kaochung, asked him the secret of his success, and the minister asked for a brush and paper, on which he wrote a hundred rimes the character "patience" or "endurance," Instead of taking that as a sad commentary on the family system, the Chinese people have ever after envied his example, and the phrase "hundred patience" (po-jen) has passed into current moral proverbs which are written on red paper and pasted on all house-doors on New Year's Day: "peaceableness brings good luck^j ^patience is the best family heritage," etc. But so long as the family system exists and so long as society is built on the principle that a man is not an individual but attains his full being only in living In harmonious social relationships, It Is easy to see how patience must be regarded as a supreme virtue and must grow naturally out of the social system,, For In such a society, patience has a reason for existence*
But If the Chinese people are unique in their patience, they are still more justly famous for their indifference. This, again, I believe, is a product of social environment. There is no more significant contrast than that between the parting instruction